You maybe read the title of this and thought I was making some deep reflection about Jesus but it is way less theological. I had to share a story that happened recently about my honor being defended. What a funny thing, to think that chivalry still exists in this “selfie-sh” generation. (Forced pun intended!)
Anyway, I was recently “insulted”. Now, you should know that I am not so easily offended simply because I crack way too many jokes to take a lot of people that seriously. Plus, I insult myself way better than most others, hah! But, what I found out the next day was that one of my youth was offended on my behalf. Now, I should go ahead and tell you that this youth and I have known each other for 10+ years. I have seen him grow up, and so when I found out that he stormed out because of how another talked to me, I was floored. Not often do people, in general, stand up for one another. However, on this given night, the youth felt enraged on my behalf. He took the offensive nature of the other youth and put it on his shoulders. What 17 year-old cares that much… about anything?
As I have thought over this incident over and over, I feel honored that he would stand up for me… even if it was followed quickly by leaving in an enraged hurry. He felt it was necessary to take offense to what this other youth had said and it wasn’t even about him.
Wow. Sincerely, this affected me.
I work with kids and youth all the time, because it is my job and because I simply enjoy the exuberant energy and random outbursts. Maybe I’m a bit weird, but kids keep things fun. Kids also have a tendency to say exactly what is on their mind. They don’t sugar coat things or try and save your feelings. When they have a thought, they say it without hindrance. This has lead to television shows and some of the funniest posts or tweets ever shared. Knowing this about kids and “older” kids has taught me to not take a kid’s gibe remark personally.
Now of course this all ties back to Jesus, because I can’t help how my brain functions. Every life lesson or happening ultimately comes back to Jesus. You should probably know that I have not always been patient or understanding. This is all stuff that God has been working into me through the years. Patience is not one of my easily-won battles. Other things have definitely come easier than patience, but I am so glad God has grown this virtue in me. It is an integral part of working not only with children but with people in general.
I have endured a lot of things throughout the years, and God has been able to work in me and through me during those trying times. One of the scriptures that always seem to stand out in this realm is found in James. James gave some very clear instructions when it comes to how we should conduct ourselves in verse 19 of chapter 1, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Don’t you wish people would always speak so clearly? James tells us so much in these 3 instructions.
First: We should be quick to listen. It is the first instruction and therefore seen as the most important of the 3 in the directives. If you are like me, you enjoy conversation. You enjoy getting to know someone and hearing about their life, day, or just a simple story. But I will also admit that I am a talker. I have always been a bit heavy handed during conversation and James has called me out in this capacity. James is telling me that what the other person is saying is more than likely more important than what I am saying.
Second: We should be slow to speak. As alluded to above…. I use a lot of words in a day. I am quick to respond or joke around. I am also quick to lead conversation. Ouch! James, I wish you had not been so clear about this, because then I could claim ignorance and jabber on without the knowledge that my words aren’t as important as the others being said. I sometimes speak without thinking. (Don’t we all?) This has led to arguments, hurt feelings, and built-up resentments because sometimes my words run quicker than my brain can function. James is making it clear that we should listen first, then slowly use words.
Third: We should be slow to anger. Okay, okay, this is still something God is working on in me. Sometimes my temper flares and my anger rises without permission. So often, my anger has been quick to the surface. I think of the animated Pixar movie, Inside Out. When the character Anger takes control of the humans’ reactions and words, every other human then reacts with their Anger. (This may not make sense, but you will just have to see it and trust me that it is one of the best-animated movies they have made to date… besides The Lion King of course.) Ah, how direct and spot on are James’ words here? We all need some daily teachings from him so we can keep ourselves in check. Slow anger… it’s a work in progress but I am much further along than I used to be.
James’ directives gave us such good insight on how we can engage with others. This is constantly the scripture my brain flips to, because it is the one I often need a reminder of. So on the night of the “offending”, I was following these instructions from James. What is the other option? Ream out a student for saying something they blatantly shared but didn’t necessarily mean in an offensive manner? No. I exercised my restraint.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon shares A LOT of wisdom with us. One that hit home during this moment was chapter 7 verses 21-22, “Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Well doesn’t that scripture slap you in the face!?! Man, these men in the Bible were inspired for their words to have withstood the test of time and resonate thousands of years later.
I used to put a lot of power in the words of others. I used to let them carry weight and they had a way of weighing on me for extended periods of time. But this scripture defeats that. Not only does it instruct us to not let others have a sway over us, but it also points out that we have said hurtful things as well. It’s basically boiling it down to the fact that hurt people hurt people. We have all had things said to us and about us, and we have all SAID things to and about others that definitely weren’t meant to build them up.
Basically, all it boils down to is this: WORDS MATTER.
It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what they hear. It doesn’t matter what you mean, it matters what they feel.
My youth “defender” was offended on my behalf, and I am thankful for that concern that he showed for me. I am also thankful that God has worked so much on me (y’all I was a mess, and still am). He has worked to help me not be so easily angered, to be patient and understand that maybe she didn’t mean the things she said. Sometimes people take out their stress on innocent bystanders. On that day, I was the bystander. Thankfully, James’ words held my lips that day.
Thank God for good friends and the wisdom spoken many, many years ago! I would be lost without them.